As ski season approaches, check out this guide on places to go, trends to try and ways to fit in. We begin with the essentials: words to ski by. If last winter's ski instructor ("ski pros," they're called) went on about carving, corn and mashed potatoes, he wasn't talking about a holiday dinner. That was Ski Speak, the lingo you need to know if you want to sound like a "ripper," not a "gaper."

Snow types

BOILERPLATE Hard, icy snow, a surface so dense your skis can't make an edge.

CORN Crumbly, cornlike spring snow that has melted and refrozen.

CORDUROY Freshly groomed snow marked with thin, parallel grooves.

DEATH COOKIES Crunchy, crusty bits of snow that form when snow melts during the day and refreezes at night. Hitting a patch of it at high speed acts like a brake.

MASHED POTATOES Mushy spring snow often found at busy trail crossings or near the base area at the end of a warm day.

BRAIN BUCKET A helmet, the kind of protection that smart skiers swear by.

BUMP A hulking mogul of snow, originally an insignificant pimple that grows into a mound as skiers steer around it.

CHOCOLATE CHIPS Rocks sticking up out of the snow, more dangerous than death cookies.

EAT WOOD What you'll do if you lose control and hit a tree.

FIRST TRACKS The first joyous run of the day on fresh snow, the reward for early risers.

GAPERS Novice skiers and onlookers who spend more time standing around than actually skiing.

GLADE A grove of thinly spaced trees, fun to ski between. Sometimes a shortcut between two downhill slopes.

HIGH SPEED QUAD, or SIXPACK An open chairlift for four to six skiers that moves uphill at high speed, but slows down to load and unload skiers.

HUCK To ski off a cliff or mound, getting airborne in the process.

LUNCH TRAY As in "launch," a snowboard.

OUT-OF-BOUNDS Terrain outside the resort's legal boundaries, ungroomed, generally unpatrolled and unsafe. Skiing out of bounds will cost you your lift ticket.

POWDER HOUND A skier whose day isn't complete until he finds a powder stash (deep, fresh, undisturbed snow).

RIPPER An expert skier, the kind of athlete you hope to become.

SKI PRO A puffed-up name for a ski instructor. The likely precursor to "ski professor."

TUCK To crouch down in a racing position, knees bent and poles against your sides. A "no tucking" sign means no racing down a crowded slope.

YARD SALE The pile of junk at the bottom of a black-diamond run when you crash and burn, scattering your skis, poles, goggles, hat, gloves, day pack, cellphone, water bottle, trail map, sunscreen, keys, driver's license and Grateful Dead ticket stubs over the snow.

WIDOW-MAKER The steepest, narrowest, toughest run on the mountain, usually attempted by the very gifted or the very foolish.